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4.4 out of 5 stars
Harriet the Spy
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on March 15, 2014
I read this book over and over again as a child, and now have revisited and still love it as an adult!!
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on June 7, 2004
(...) I have read the whole book of Harriet the Spy and as long as long as I live, I will love this book. This is the best book I have ever read, because it has very vivid writing and you can almost hear Harriet thinking and see what Harriet is doing (what everybody is doing). Harriet learns two things: First, sometimes you need to lie to your friends in order to keep them your friends. Second, friends are very important. I could read this book a thousand times more and not get bored with it. I would recommend over 70 people reading this book a month.
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on April 30, 2004
I first knew about Harriet the Spy in 5th grade when the movie came out. I was entranced, enthralled and totally taken with such a moving film (no wonder it's called "One of the best children's movies ever!"), and I bought the book later that week - along with Fitzhugh's sequel The Long Secret. I became a "child spy" like Harriet because I found her lifestyle amazing, and Louise Fitzhugh is an excellent writer. Harriet the Spy sparkles as one of literature's best children's novels!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2004
I have a theory about "Harriet the Spy". I suspect that no adult that read this book once (and only once) as a child remembers it correctly. For example, if you had asked me, prior to rereading it, what the plot of "Harriet the Spy" was, I could have summed it up like so: Harriet the Spy is about a girl who wants to be a spy. She spies on lots of different people and writes in a notebook, but one day all her friends read the notebook and none of them like her anymore. That is the plot of "Harriet the Spy". And I would be half right. Surprising to me, I found I was forgetting much much more.
In truth, "Harriet the Spy" is about class, loss, and being true to one's own self. Harriet M. Welch (the M. was her own invention) is the daughter of rather well-to-do socialites. Raised by her nurse Ole Golly until the ripe old age of eleven, Harriet must come to terms with Ole Golly's eventual abandonment. Ole Golly marries and leaves Harriet to her own devices just as the aforementioned tragedy involving her friends and the notebook occurs. The combination of the nurse's disappearance from Harriet's life (leaving behind such oh-so helpful pieces of advice as, "Don't cry", and the like) and the subsequent hatred directed at Harriet by her former friends makes Harriet into a veritable she-devil. A willful child from the start (punishments are few and far between in the Welch family) Harriet slowly spirals downward until a helpful note from Ole Golly gives her the advice she needs to carry on.
So many things about this book appeal to kids. The realistic nature of peer interactions is one. Harriet randomly despises various kids, even before her notebook is read. After making their lives terrible, she eventually has to experience what they themselves have had to deal with. Author Louise Fitzhugh is such a good writer, though, that even as you disapprove of Harriet's more nasty tendencies you sympathize with her. Honestly, who would want ink dumped down their back? As Harriet observes various people on her spy route, she writes her observations about them as well as about life itself. She hasn't quite figured out the differences between her life and the life of her best friend Sport (the son of an impoverished irresponsible writer) though she does briefly ponder if she herself is rich (the fact that she has her own private bath, nurse, and family cook never quite occurs to her). On the whole, the book contains a multitude of wonderful characters. Harriet's parents are both amusing and annoying, completely dedicated to their daughter and completely clueless about her needs. I was especially shocked by a section of the book in which Harriet asks her mother if she'll be allowed to eat dinner with her parents that night. Gaah!
Accompanying the text are Fitzhugh's own meticulous line drawings. They're fantastic and eerie. Combined with this timeless story (timeless in all the good ways) the book deserves its status as one of the best books for children. Read it again to remember. You'll find a whole lot more than you bargained for.
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on March 4, 2004
If you were to look at Harriet M. Welsh you would see a fairly ordinary girl, but she is not. She is a spy. Every day after school she takes her notebook and goes on a route that takes her through the city. She makes stops on this route and every stop she records everything that she sees, hears, and does in her notebook. She not only does that, but in particular she looks in on people's lives at the certain stops that she makes, in other words spying. She has never been caught. Harriet takes her notebook everywhere with her and records everything. One day Harriet goes to school and discovers that when she looks to find her notebook it is not with her but her best friends. They read everything that she has written in the notebook and some of the things are about them, but many of things aren't very nice. Suddenly she feels that the entire classroom has turned against her, and there is nothing she can do. Will the great spy Harriet M. Welsh somehow find a way to sneak out of this corner? You will have to read this book to find out.
I think that this book is stuffed with great details and descriptions of the world that the characters are living in and of the characters themselves. It had an ending that was unexpected and very unique in its own way. I think that this book overall was wonderful and I highly recommend it to all that are capable of reading.
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on March 4, 2004
Harriet the Spy is an 11 year old girl who keeps painful but true notes in her notebook. Soon her notebook falls into the wrong hands and everyone in her class, even her two best friends, are against her. Then she must pay them back, but is revenge the answer? Or will she give up her notebook? And will put her life right side up?
Harriet the Spy is a great book with adventure, comedy and friendship. This is a book you can't put down, you have to keep on reading. But this book also shows you that revenge only causes more trouble.
To find out the amazing ending, read the great book Harriet the Spy.
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on February 4, 2004
This book reminds me of the days when I used to work for good old fidel, destabilizing governments, and being an all around bad guy.
Great book, I know that Trotsky and Lenin are also big fans of this highly intellectual and insightful book.
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on December 23, 2003
ok, i must say that this book is possibly the best book i've ever read. i have definitly recommended this story to essentially everyone i know, and most that have read it have told me how much they love it. this book has inspired me in many differant areas many times in life. i know many people find the characters unrelatable or mean-spirited, but that adds to the books greatness. the fact that this childrens-book doesnt sugar coat the truth (like the modern-day spy-stories such as "Spy Kids") is such a refresher! this book is like a window into the world of children where most adults dare not venture.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2003
This book is an excellent read for children, the story of Harriet is not one to be missed. She, as a determined spy set for a career in writing, finds herself going through her spy route daily, and keeping her notebook jam-packed with personal notes about everything and everyone. Her life turns upside down however, when one day her classmates find her private notebook, and start to read all of her notes inside - about them! Harriet's never-around mother and father are not a lot of help as the situation gets out of hand for Harriet, and even her best friends Janie and Simon are against her.
Though I loved this book when I was younger, re-reading it made me see the quite flat perspective and the almost completely camera angle made this book not quite as enjoyable as it had been when I was younger. However, still a very refreshing read for all!
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2003
I just finished listening to this book with our two sons age 8 and 9. The writing style was very descriptive and well developed (with the exception of the conclusion), however the book overall has serious problems in approach. Harriet is a mean-spirited little girl who sees very little in reality of consequences. She sees the negative in most everything and when caught in this trap of jaundiced eye (and pen), rather than being held accountable for her acts and brought to better resolution, she is allowed to go on getting meaner and meaner. The other children respond also meanly. The portrayal of others is very derogatory. We spent many sessions discussing what was wrong with Harriets positions and perspectives as we went through the book. She is compulsive and obsessive and is in serious grief over the loss of her nurse. These issues were completely glossed over. Her mother and father are rather disassociated with her life and caught up in their own lives to her detriment. Raising good kids takes good input and parenting. That does not get portrayed in this book. The conclusion of the book is not well executed and the portrayal of family life is very negative. If you want a book that will rob your kids of their childhood perspective, this is it. If you want a book that is more an adult study in disfunctional children in a disfunctional world populated by disfunctional adults, this is it. After reading this book, it is obvious to me why the 60s and 70s became a child-rearing society that created the greed, personal lack of accountability, and negativism in the young adults of the 80s, 90s, and new century. Values do matter and are shaped heavily in this age range of readers. Reading other reviews on Amazon, by people who claim this book brought them encouragement to become writers, shows to me why todays literature is so devoid of values, hope, and goodness.
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